Images by Danilo Reyes. Please do not use without permission
Concept: Social and political rebel working inside the system
Embrace: 1141 A.D. (Born 1103 A.D.)
Physical Strength 2, Dexterity 3, Stamina 2
Social: Charisma 3, Manipulation 4, Appearance 3
Mental: Perception 4, Intelligence 4, Wits 3
Talents: Awareness 3, Empathy 3, Intimidation 2, Leadership 3, Subterfuge 3
Skills: Commerce 4, Etiquette 2, Ride 1
Knowledges: Academics 2, Enigmas 2, Occult 4, Politics 4, Seneschal 3, Theology 2
Auspex 4, Dominate 4, Thaumaturgy 5 (Potestas Vitae 5, Potestas Tempestatum 4, Iter Pernix 3, Potestas Motus 3)
Rituals: Any she needs, but thanks to the Black Death, Magdalene is a specialist in blood and health-related rituals. Her trademark is a ritual which purifies and concentrates animal blood into Cainite vitae. She also knows several spells which cleanse blood (or entire bodies, living ot undead), of corruption and disease
Allies 1, Contacts 3, Domain 4, Generation 4, Herd 4, Influence 3, Resources 4, Retainers 5, Status 4
Conviction 4, Instinct 4, Courage 3
Road: Road of Sin (Path of Rebellion) 7
Image: Magdalene is a handsome woman rather than a beautiful one, but her toned, athletic body and unblemished face, combined with her natural charisma, make her very attractive. When dealing with her fellow Cainites, she wears the scarlet robes of a hermetic Mage, with her long brown hair flowing loose. When moving among mortals, she dresses as a wealthy noblewoman, with her hair pinned up in a variety of elaborate headpieces.
Roleplaying Hints: You are a believer in freedom and liberation, whom circumstances have conspired to force into the role of benevolent autocrat. The irony doesn't escape you – indeed, it gnaws at you – but you see no alternative that doesn't leave the Fief subjugated to another Melusine, or worse, a lackey of Mithras. So you do the minimum necessary to keep the Domain of Winchester peaceful, stable, and above all, independent, bending the knee to Mithras and the elders of your own clan where you absolutely have to, while quietly doing all you can to weaken their hold on yourself and your "subjects" (a word that makes you wince inwardly). You secretly despise both the Church and the nobility, and your heart was with Wat Tyler and his Peasants' Revolt, even as your head told you that his cause was doomed. You would prefer to make Winchester a haven for the oppressed – the Low Clans, the rebel peasants, the Lollards – but you're a pragmatist, and you know that you can only accept so many malcontents into the Fief before they stir up too much trouble and provoke a massive backlash from Cainite and mortal rulers alike.
You speak with authority, but not pomposity. Indeed, you have a dry, ironic wit which specialises in ridiculing pomposity and exposing hypocrisy; you were, after all, a Harpy for almost a century. You deal sympathetically with those who have suffered through circumstances beyond their control, but despise those who don't fight back and use every means in their power to solve their own problems. Your Court is a business-like, matter-of-fact place, more akin to a Guild Merchants' meeting than a royal audience; you demand no ritual abasement and no deference beyond routine courtesy and an acknowledgement that you are ultimately in charge.
Influence: Magdalene has near-total control of St. Cross Hospital, her personal Domain. She also owns a large percentage of the estates around Winchester through various proxies. Winchester's butchers either all either her servants or her allies. Through them, she obtains the large volumes of cattle blood which her rituals convert into vitae which can sustain Cainites.
Haven: A concealed set of underground chambers beneath the Hospital of St. Cross
She was born simply Alice of Bishopsgate, but self-reinvention has been one of Magdalene de la Croix's talents from her youngest days. The unwanted third daughter of a London butcher, she chose to work in a high-class brothel in Southwark, catering to some of the city's wealthiest nobles, merchants and prelates, rather than end her days as unmarried domestic drudge in her father's home.
She was clever, strong-willed and shrewd, but she had neither land, nor wealth, nor a drop of aristocratic blood. When she decided to become a nun, it wasn't out of piety, but cold-blooded calculation of the best means to advance her considerable ambitions
One of her clients was an aristocratic Winchester churchman, a clerk in the service of Henri de Blois, the Bishop of Winchester. With his help, she assumed the guise of a minor noblewoman and joined the Nunaminster in Winchester as a postulant.
Within a few years, she had risen to become the Nunaminster's Cellarer, responsible for all its provisioning. An accomplished businesswoman, she proved to be a great success in the role, steadily increasing both the convent's prosperity and her own popularity with her follow nuns. In time, she might have achieved her ambition of becoming Abbess, but fate, in the form of the Rout of Winchester, intervened.
Forced to flee onto the night-time streets of Winchester as the Nunaminster burned, Sister Magdalene was set upon by a drunken mob of King Stephen's troops. Consumed by fury at seeing her years of work brought to ruin in a single night, she killed one of her would-be rapists with a single dagger-thrust through the heart, and wounded two others before their companions were able to subdue her. She was spitting defiance and curses at her attackers, bracing herself to have her throat cut, when the soldiers' clothing abruptly burst into flame.
They fled, screaming in terror at this supposed sign of divine displeasure, as Magdalene's sire stepped from the shadows and offered her his hand.
Cynewulf of Mercia was one of the first English Tremere magi to be Embraced into the clan. A confidante of Meerlinda of Wessex, one of Tremere's seven Councillors, he took part in the so-called "War of the Tor" - the Tremere's attempt to take control of Glastonbury - in 1101, and remained behind to co-ordinate the clan's affairs in the Fief of Winchester when Meerlinda withdrew to Durham in 1105. He had been watching Sister Magdalene for several years, impressed with her business acumen and political skill, but unsure whether subjecting her to a Blood Oath would snuff out the very drive and determination that would make her an effective agent.
The Boon he was offered by Baron Roger FitzWilliam in the wake of the Rout of Winchester solved his dilemma quite neatly. He had expected Magdalene to serve the Tremere primarily as a politician and diplomat, and her aptitude for blood magic came as a welcome surprise.
Over the course of the next two centuries, Magdalene became the public and pleasantly approachable face of the Tremere in Winchester, allowing Cynewulf to withdraw from public view and eventually, return to the Lion's Gate Chantry in Durham.
When the Black Death ravaged Winchester, Magdalene's ability to refine and purify blood made her a saviour - or at least, an indispensable asset - to the city's Cainites. By the time that Melusine d'Anjou vanished in 1374, Magdalene had already eclipsed the former Prince's influence, and was able to assume her position with something close to popular acclamation.
Her popularity endures, thanks to a combination of her own political skill and the siege mentality engendered in Winchester's Cainites by the continuing fear of the plague and the threat of a resurgent Inquisition. She has no need to rule harshly; the city's vampires are acutely aware of their vulnerability and see her as a protector rather than oppressor. It helps that her own beliefs emphasise the importance of personal liberty, to a degree that slightly troubles the elders of her own clan. For the time being, however, they acknowledge that Magdalene's relaxed style of leadership has secured them one of the richest and most prestigious Fiefs in the British Isles, when a more rigid and authoritarian approach might have failed. For the Tremere, what ultimately matters is success, and Magdalene's is impossible to deny.